Archives mensuelles : novembre 2015

Stressed students ?

According to a study by the American Psychological Association published in 2014, more than one student out of two says that they feel anxious with regards to their studies, one out of three clearly indicates feeling depressed, and one out of ten admits having suicidal tendencies. This alarming observation reveals a public health problem that we can no longer ignore. A student suffering from stress is even more depressed and irritable, has difficulty concentrating and no longer enjoys their studies ! (Not to mention having problems sleeping and serious physical problems such as migraines, heart and digestive problems,..).

3 types of behaviors indicative of a danger of burnout can be observed. Firstly, divestment in student life : students at risk avoid participating in their school’s social life and rather have the tendency to seek to reduce socialization as much as they can and prefer to cut themselves off from the rest of the world until the next moment of respite, which is generally at the end of the academic year. Secondly, a student at risk no longer makes sharing his work with his peers a priority, in the sense that he places all his energy in the execution of his daily tasks, almost in survival mode. This is the harmful machine which lowers self-esteem and confidence in their chances of success. Finally, a student at risk has a strong feeling of powerlessness and a negative view of the world. In reality, he is sad and is in a state which can be classified as depressive .

So then, who are the students who are at risk and how can we help them ? How can preventative measures be put in place ?  What are the good practices that students can be inspired from to protect them from burnout ?  As teachers, how can we help our students to avoid this fearsome trap ?

For my part, I take the time to discuss stress with my students and I give them the following advice :

  • Plan your working time and, above all, have regular breaks, 10 minutes every 2 hours, a proper break at midday, in the evenings and one rest day a week. An overloaded brain can no longer function, and taking a small walk before going to bed can have a tremendous effect in improving sleep quality
  • Distance yourself from the situation that is stressing you out and ask yourself the following question : ‘what is the worst that could possibly happen to me in this situation ?’ This simple line of questioning often helps to de-dramatize the
  • Practice the stress reduction method which is based on full consciousness (mindfulness). This method of stress management, which was developed by John Kabat-Zihn (1998) is a combination of traditional Buddhist meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The techniques of full consciousness enable one to learn how to reduce physical or emotional pain, anxiety and to improve quality of life and relationships. This is a powerful tool to change the relationship with one’s negative thoughts, and mental reflection. I really like doing some basic exercises in class to let my students experiment mindfulness.

I cannot help thinking of the teacher’s role and of the positive impact of caring towards students. Such a mindset does not mean diminishing academic requirements, it rather demonstrates respect and empathy. After all, is it not legitimate to create a caring and stimulating study environment in which students feel recognized and where the willingness to learn overwhelms the fear of failure ?

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf

Dumont A, Rege-Collet N. (2014). Pedagogy of higher education : theoretical benchmarks and practical applications. Managing stress in an academic environment (Developing the role of the higher education teacher ed. Vol. 2). Switzerland: Peter Lang.

 

Etudiants stressés?

humiliation

Selon une étude de l’American Psychological Association parue en 2014, plus d’un étudiant sur deux dit avoir des angoisses, un sur trois se sentir déprimé et un sur dix ressentir des tendances suicidaires. Ce constat alarmant révèle un problème de santé publique que l’on ne peut plus ignorer. Un étudiant souffrant de stress est de plus en plus déprimé et irritable, a de la difficulté à se concentrer, n’aime plus ses études et est en danger ! (Sans compter les troubles du sommeil et les problèmes physiques graves tels migraines, troubles cardiaques, digestifs,..).

On peut observer 3 types de comportements révélateurs d’un danger de burnout chez les étudiants. En premier lieu, le désinvestissement de la vie estudiantine : les étudiants à risque évitent de participer à la vie sociale de leur école et vont plutôt avoir tendance à chercher à limiter au maximum les échanges et à se couper du reste du monde. En second lieu, un étudiant à risque ne parle pas de ce qu’il vit et met toute son énergie dans ses études jour après jour, dans un mode de survie. C’est l’engrenage pernicieux de la baisse de l’estime de soi et de la confiance dans ses chances de réussite. Et pour terminer, un étudiant à risque ressent un fort sentiment d’impuissance et a une vision négative du monde. En réalité, il broie du noir et est dans un état que l’on peut qualifier de dépressif.

Mais alors, qui sont les étudiants à risques et comment les aider ? Comment mettre en place des mesures de prévention ?  Quelles sont les bonnes pratiques dont les étudiants pourraient s’inspirer pour se protéger du syndrome d’épuisement professionnel ?  Et nous, enseignants, comment pouvons-nous aider nos étudiants à éviter ce piège redoutable ?

Pour ma part, je prends le temps de discuter de stress avec mes étudiants et les conseils que je leur  donne sont les suivants :

  • Planifiez votre temps de travail et surtout faites des pauses régulières, 10 minutes toutes les 2 heures, une vraie pause à midi et le soir et un jour par semaine de congé si possible. Un cerveau saturé ne peut plus emmagasiner, mieux vaut l’aérer, et une petite balade avant d’aller se coucher peut avoir un effet énorme pour améliorer la qualité du sommeil
  • Prenez de la distance avec la situation qui vous stresse et posez-vous la question suivante : ‘quelle est la pire issue possible si cela se passe pour mal pour moi dans cette situation ?’. Ce simple questionnement permet souvent de dédramatiser la situation.
  • Pratiquez la méthode de réduction du stress basée sur la pleine conscience (mindfulness). Cette méthode de gestion du stress développée par John Kabat-Zihn (1998) est au croisement de la méditation de tradition bouddhiste et de la thérapie cognitivo-comportementale. Les techniques de pleine conscience permettent d’apprendre à réduire la douleur physique ou émotionnelle, l’anxiété et à améliorer la qualité de vie et les relations. C’est un outil puissant pour changer la relation avec ses pensées négatives, et la rumination mentale. J’aime bien faire l’exercice du raisin de en classe pour permettre à mes étudiants d’expérimenter cette approche.

Je ne peux m’empêcher de penser au rôle de l’enseignant et à l’impact positif de la bienveillance à l’égard des étudiants. Un tel état d’esprit ne signifie pas pour autant diminuer ses exigences, c’est plutôt faire preuve de respect et d’empathie. Après tout, n’est-il pas légitime de créer un environnement d’études bienveillant et stimulant dans lequel les étudiants se sentent reconnus, accompagnés et dans lequel l’envie d’apprendre prédomine sur la peur d’échouer ?

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf

Dumont A, Rege-Collet N. (2014). La pédagogie de l’enseignement supérieur : repères théoriques et applications pratiques. Gérer son stress en milieu académique (Se développer au titre d’enseignant du supérieur ed. Vol. 2). Switzerland: Peter Lang.

Etudiants passifs?

Etudiants passifs ? shutterstock_222912067

Les étudiants choisissent-ils d’être passifs ou subissent-ils un enseignement qui les force à la passivité ? Dans une classe inversée, les étudiants n’ont pas d’autre choix que de s’engager dans leur expérience d’apprentissage, mais cela leur plait-il vraiment ? L’enseignant qui innove pédagogiquement s’attend à voir ses efforts récompensés par un engagement des étudiants dans leur expérience d’apprentissage, or ce n’est pas toujours le cas !

Rappelons pour commencer que la classe inversée s’articule en trois temps dont deux à l’extérieur de la salle de cours. Le principe, simplifié ici, est de faire travailler les étudiants à distance sur des notions préalables avant la rencontre avec l’enseignant. Le temps ainsi dégagé offre la possibilité d’entrer dans la compréhension de la nouvelle matière en présentiel avec ses collègues de cours et sous la supervision de l’enseignant. En résumé, l’étape 1 sous forme asynchrone à distance initie préalablement les étudiants à une nouvelle matière. L’étape 2 en présentiel, donc en mode synchrone, se passe principalement dans des activités de compréhension sous la supervision de l’enseignant. L’étape 3, en mode asynchrone, est celle de la consolidation ou de l’approfondissement. Un dispositif de classe inversée exige un réel engagement chez les étudiants. Dans un tel contexte, la passivité n’a pas de place ! Certains étudiants ne se sentent pas à l’aise et préfèrent le modèle classique transmissif nettement plus reposant pour eux, en apparence du moins.

A mon sens, afin de mobiliser l’engagement de tous les étudiants dans une expérience d’apprentissage en profondeur, il est impératif d’observer les 3 points suivants :

  • Clarifier les intentions pédagogiques, expliquer les objectifs d’apprentissage et le choix des stratégies d’enseignement. Pour nous autres enseignants, les objectifs sont clairs et ont leur raison d’être, ce qui nous semble logique et évident ne l’est pas forcément pour nos étudiants. Prendre un temps pour clarifier l’intention pédagogique n’est jamais un temps perdu. J’essaie personnellement de toujours expliquer mes choix d’enseignement et les raisons de ces choix.
  • La question du sens : permettre aux étudiants de faire des liens entre leur expérience d’apprentissage et leur vie professionnelle future donne du sens à leur implication et à leurs efforts. Ce point rejoint le précédent, clarifier les objectifs c’est mettre en lumière le sens d’un enseignement et de son apport pour la vie professionnelle future de nos étudiants.
  • Le témoignage d’anciens : la pédagogie inversée ou toute autre forme d’enseignement impliquant un engagement actif dans l’expérience d’apprentissage résulte en un travail régulier et nourri. Ne négligeons pas la force de conviction d’anciens étudiants qui viennent témoigner de la qualité de leur expérience ou encore du fait qu’ils étaient prêts au moment de l’examen final.

Prendre le temps de clarifier ce que l’on fait, pourquoi on le fait ainsi et en quoi cela donne du sens à l’expérience d’apprentissage permet de favoriser l’adhésion des étudiants récalcitrants, c’est aussi une manière de leur témoigner du respect et de les impliquer dans la philosophie d’enseignement.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 13th Edition Wilbert J. McKeachie University of Michigan Marilla Svinicki University of Texas at Austin ISBN-10: 0495809292  |  ISBN-13: 9780495809296

 

 

 

Passive students?

Passive students ? Do students choose to be passive or do they submit to a form of teaching which forces them into passivity ? In a flipped classroom, students do not have any choice but to engage in their learning experience, but do they really enjoy doing so ?  Teachers who innovate educationally might expect to see their efforts pay off through students’ engagement in their learning experience, yet this is not always the case !

Remember that for a start, a flipped classroom is divided into three stages, including two which are outside of the classroom. The principle, which is simplified here, is to expose students to material first exposure and to have them work remotely on topics prior to class meeting, before meeting with the teacher. The time spent apart offers the possibility of entering into understanding of new material face-to-face with their class peers and under teachers’ supervision. In summary, step 1 in the form of asynchronous distance, first introduces students to new material. Step 2 is face-to-face, therefore synchronously mostly with comprehension activities under the teacher’s supervision. Step 3, asynchronously, promotes consolidation or enhancement. In such an educational context, passivity has no place ! Some students may not feel at ease and prefer a classic, traditional and transmissive method which they (wrongly) think is more relaxing.

In my opinion, in order to encourage all students to engage in deeper learning experiences, it is crucial to observe the following 3 points :

  • Clarifying teaching intentions, explaining learning outcomes and teaching strategies. For us teachers, learning outcomes are clear and meaningful, but in may not be the case for our students. Spending some time to clarify the educational intention is never wasted. I personally always try to explain my teaching philosophy and the intended learning outcomes to my students.
  • The crucial question: ‘In what way what we are doing will help me in my future professional life?: fostering students to make connections between their learning experience and their professional future gives meaning to their engagement and efforts. This point links to the previous one, clarifying learning outcomes is casting light on the meaning of teaching and the contribution to the future professional lives of our
  • Testimony of elders: flipped classroom or any other form of active learning and teaching implies a lot of work from students’ perspectives. Do not neglect previous students who can share the quality of their learning experience and become persuasive allies!

Taking time to clarify what we are doing in and out of the classroom, why it needs to be done and in what way it makes sense to students is not only a key in teaching but also a way of showing respect and consideration to students.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 13th Edition Wilbert J. McKeachie University of Michigan Marilla Svinicki University of Texas at Austin ISBN-10: 0495809292  |  ISBN-13: 9780495809296

 

 

Passive students ?

Do students choose to be passive or do they submit to a form of teaching which forces them into passivity ? In a flipped classroom, students do not have any choice but to engage in their learning experience, but do they really enjoy doing so ?  Teachers who innovate educationally might expect to see their efforts pay off through students’ engagement in their learning experience, yet this is not always the case !

Remember that for a start, a flipped classroom is divided into three stages, including two which are outside of the classroom. The principle, which is simplified here, is to expose students to material first exposure and to have them work remotely on topics prior to class meeting, before meeting with the teacher. The time spent apart offers the possibility of entering into understanding of new material face-to-face with their class peers and under teachers’ supervision. In summary, step 1 in the form of asynchronous distance, first introduces students to new material. Step 2 is face-to-face, therefore synchronously mostly with comprehension activities under the teacher’s supervision. Step 3, asynchronously, promotes consolidation or enhancement. In such an educational context, passivity has no place ! Some students may not feel at ease and prefer a classic, traditional and transmissive method which they (wrongly) think is more relaxing.

In my opinion, in order to encourage all students to engage in deeper learning experiences, it is crucial to observe the following 3 points :

  • Clarifying teaching intentions, explaining learning outcomes and teaching strategies. For us teachers, learning outcomes are clear and meaningful, but in may not be the case for our students. Spending some time to clarify the educational intention is never wasted. I personally always try to explain my teaching philosophy and the intended learning outcomes to my students.
  • The crucial question: ‘In what way what we are doing will help me in my future professional life?: fostering students to make connections between their learning experience and their professional future gives meaning to their engagement and efforts. This point links to the previous one, clarifying learning outcomes is casting light on the meaning of teaching and the contribution to the future professional lives of our
  • Testimony of elders: flipped classroom or any other form of active learning and teaching implies a lot of work from students’ perspectives. Do not neglect previous students who can share the quality of their learning experience and become persuasive allies!

Taking time to clarify what we are doing in and out of the classroom, why it needs to be done and in what way it makes sense to students is not only a key in teaching but also a way of showing respect and consideration to students.

 

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 13th Edition Wilbert J. McKeachie University of Michigan Marilla Svinicki University of Texas at Austin ISBN-10: 0495809292  |  ISBN-13: 9780495809296

 

 

Will computers replace teachers?

shutterstock_77993917

Will computers soon replace teachers ? This question can disturb and even anger, but one must nevertheless recognize that it would be wise to ask it. In an environment where high school students spend on average 4 hours a day on the Internet, we can no longer gloss over the fact that technology is part of the educational world, whether we like it or not ! The traditional, purely transmissive academic stance has become obsolete in my opinion, and it is important to rethink the stances of a teacher and millenials, meaning the generation that has grown up with computers.

It is still (too) frequent to discover teaching contexts of an ex-cathedra style with audiences full to bursting point because there is no other choice than to do it in order to succeed in one’s studies. I understand students who, rather than being uncomfortable, or not there at all in the context of a crowded lecture, prefer to look for an educational substitute on the Internet. It is undoubtably more comfortable and efficient to watch an interactive video at one’s own pace than to take notes in a full auditorium. If  teaching is limited to the transmission of knowledge, I am convinced that computers will sooner or later replace teachers.

Yet teaching is not simply transmitting, it is creating opportunities for learning. The true question to pose as a teacher is : ‘I teach, but are my students learning ?’ The act of learning should benefit the student only and it is thus imperative to create conditions in which learning can take place. When I was studying, I have no memory of really having learned at the moment of taking notes. I believed that I understood everything, but things got complicated as soon as I got home when I realized that the subject was far more complex than I had imagined. The act of learning, in which I would have had the most need of educational support, took place alone or with a group of students struggling over the same subjects.

It is here that the flipped classroom intervenes, time spent with students is unlocked from a transmissive perspective which takes place prior to the class meeting with a first exposure to new material. The teacher is not only a transmitter anymore, but rather a guide, coach, an awakener and  a companion in the learning experience. Technology becomes a channel to externalize the transmission of knowledge. Videos, annotated readings, wikis and any other technological activity facilitates the acquisition of the material in a learning environment which is familiar to the generation of digital learners.

I am deeply convinced that in a flipped classroom, not only will teachers not be replaced by computers, but their role will become even more important in order to optimize the learning experience of their students. Their stance passes from a transmitter to companion, from « not anymore a sage on the stage, but a guide on the side ».(King, 1993)

King, A. (1993). From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. College Teaching, 41, 30-35.

 

Les ordinateurs remplaceront-ils les enseignants ?

shutterstock_56688868

Les ordinateurs remplaceront-ils bientôt les enseignants ? Cette question peut déranger voire énerver, il faut néanmoins reconnaître qu’il devient judicieux de se la poser. Dans un contexte où les étudiants des hautes écoles passent en moyenne 4 heures par jour sur internet,  on ne peut plus faire abstraction de la technologie pour enseigner, qu’on le veuille ou non ! La posture classique académique purement transmissive est devenue caduque à mes yeux, et il est important de repenser les postures d’enseignant et d’apprenant numérique, c’est-à-dire la génération ayant grandi avec des ordinateurs.

Il est encore (trop) fréquent de découvrir des contextes d’enseignement mode ex-cathedra avec des auditoires pleins à craquer parce qu’il n’y a pas d’autre choix que de s’y rendre pour réussir ses études. Je ne peux que comprendre et accepter la démarche des étudiants qui plutôt que d’être mal assis, voire pas assis du tout dans le cadre d’un cours bondé, préfèrent chercher un substitut d’enseignement sur Internet. Il est incontestablement plus confortable et efficace de visionner à son rythme une capsule vidéo interactive que de prendre des notes dans un auditoire plein. Si l’enseignement se bornait à transmettre un savoir, je suis convaincue que les ordinateurs remplaceraient tôt ou tard les enseignants.

Or, enseigner n’est pas simplement transmettre, c’est créer des occasions d’apprendre. La véritable question à se poser en tant qu’enseignant est : ‘j’enseigne, mais eux, mes étudiants, apprennent-ils ?’ L’acte d’apprendre est du ressort de l’étudiant seulement, il est donc impératif de créer dans conditions dans lesquelles l’apprentissage peut se faire. Lorsque j’ai fait mes études, je n’ai pas souvenir d’avoir véritablement expérimenté d’apprentissage en prenant simplement des notes. Sur le moment, j’avais l’impression de tout comprendre, mais les choses se compliquaient une fois rentrée chez moi quand je réalisais que la matière était plus complexe que ma première impression en cours. L’acte d’apprentissage, dans lequel j’aurais eu le plus besoin de soutien pédagogique, se passait soit seule soit avec un groupe d’étudiants qui planchait sur les mêmes sujets.

C’est ici qu’intervient la pédagogie inversée, le temps passé en présence des étudiants est libéré de la partie transmissive qui a eu lieu préalablement. L’enseignant change de posture et de transmetteur, devient guide, coach, éveilleur, accompagnateur dans l’expérience d’apprentissage. La technologie se transforme non pas en concurrence mais en support pour externaliser la transmission des savoirs. Des vidéos, des lectures annotées sous forme de wikis ou toute autre activité construite à l’aide de la technologie facilitent l’acquisition de la matière dans un environnement d’apprentissage familier à la génération des apprenants numériques.

Selon moi, dans une configuration de pédagogie inversée, non seulement les enseignants ne seront pas remplacés par des ordinateurs, mais leur rôle devient encore plus important pour optimiser l’expérience d’apprentissage de leurs étudiants. Leur posture passe de transmetteur à accompagnateur, de « not anymore a sage on the stage, but a guide on the side ».(King, 1993)

 

King, A. (1993). From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. College Teaching, 41, 30-35.

 

 

4 Reasons for TBL

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Why should you teach in a TBL manner, team-based-learning, meaning placing students in groups of 4 or 5 ? Research in university education shows interest in this way of creating useful learning experiences for students. In order to create optimal learning experiences, one must ensure that group work does not allow students to distribute the work to minimize the load. It should not be forgotten that students are always in the most strategic mindset possible, in other words, trying to obtain the best result by supplying the least amount of effort. Therefore, it is essential to construct working groups by ensuring that the students are placed situations of complex interdependence, meaning that each member’s work depends on the others, and that each student must be able to explain all aspects of the group’s work, regardless of what he has done.

In my view, the following are 4 good reasons to consider group work in teaching :

  • Placing students in a situation to achieve a collective goal, as opposed to a common goal. With a common goal, they all have the same goal but everyone can achieve it individually, for example, mastering 5 concepts of mechanical physics within a given date. With a collective goal, the students must for example, invent a machine which understands the 5 concepts in question but, in addition, they must each be questioned individually on any concept for the work group evaluation.
  • To create true interaction and to promote living knowledge. It is sometimes less intimidating to admit that you do not understand or to ask peers for clarification than one’s teacher. By listening to explanations from students about a concept that I have taught, I often observe that the methods that they use differ to mine, even though they have lead to the same outcome. This is explained by the fact that students who have just integrated new concepts recall the mechanisms which have lead to their comprehension and we should note that us teachers have often forgotten how we ourselves have learnt.
  • Teaching students to work together on projects is in some ways getting them used to working in a group which is a common situation in their future professional lives.
  • Developing a form of social responsibility in students and leading them to take charge of their own studies is a way to help them behave professionally and to respect the work of others in a group. One can attribute a mark for this aspect of this group work which reveals personal and professional ethics.

In order for group work to be interesting for all members, the problem or case to be resolved must be more difficult than the best student would be able to resolve on his own. In group work, the students are stronger together and can therefore work on more complex problems that they would not be able to do individually. I like the phrase Stronger together which summarizes this approach in two words !

Team-Based Learning: Small Group Learning’s Next Big Step: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 116 (2009) Larry K. Michaelsen (Editor), Michael Sweet (Editor), Dean X. Parmelee (Editor)